DO PRIVATE COMPANIES BEAR ANY
RESPONSIBILITY FOR WORLD CITIZENS?
In an enlightened society of sentient beings, what is more important and what is most reflective of a spiritually advanced culture: (A) protecting the intellectual property rights of innovative creators within that culture, or (B) making the innovations of innovative creators within a society available for the benefit of the largest number of people everywhere?
And what if the innovations are life-saving, illness-curing, sickness-abating drugs that have been researched, invented and manufactured at considerable cost by major, privately owned pharmaceutical companies, and sold by those companies around the world?
The above is not simply a philosophical inquiry. It may be playing itself out very soon in international courts — and it drives to the question of why the large pharmaceutical companies produce their products to begin with: to save the largest number of lives, or to make the largest possible profit?
According to a report by writer Abby Zimet published at the website CommonDreams.org, the CEO of the German-based pharmaceutical manufacturer Bayer — a gentleman named Marijn Dekkers — gave the reasons that Bayer researched, created, manufactured and has sold its anti-cancer medicine Nexivar around the world . . . and it was not to make the potentially life-saving drug available in places like, say, India, where Nexivar cost around $5,500 a month to use.
“We did not develop this medicine (Nexavar) for Indians,” the Common Dreams website reports Mr. Dekkers as saying at a little reported pharmaceutical conference. “We developed it for Western patients who can afford it.”
A check with the global information reference site Wikipedia appears to have confirmed the report. The Wikipedia article says: “In an interview given to the Businessweek following controversies surrounding the Indian government’s decision to award a compulsory license to Indian company Natco Pharma Ltd. for Naxavar (sic) (Sorafenib), Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers equated the compulsory license with theft.
“Regarding targeted markets, he said, ‘Is this going to have a big effect on our business model? No, because we did not develop this product for the Indian market, let’s be honest. We developed this product for Western patients who can afford this product, quite honestly. It is an expensive product, being an oncology product’.” (“Merck to Bristol-Myers Face More Threats on India Drug Patents”. businessweek.com. 2014-01-21).
As noted above, Mr. Dekker’s comments came in response to media inquiries regarding an action taken by the government of India, which has compelled a local Indian drug manufacturer to produce a generic version of Nexavar for the Indian market, saying that because the product produced by Bayer violates Indian law because it is not available to the public at a reasonably affordable price.
The government invoked what it says is its authority to compel the manufacturing of sorafenib, a generic version of Nexavar, and have it made available to the Indian population as a life-saving measure for its citizens suffering from kidney cancer or liver cancer.
As a result, a local Indian company, Natco Pharma, is now allowed to manufacture and sell sorafenib in India for about $178 per month, rather than the $5,500 per month that Nexavar costs. By government order, Natco must make the generic drug available for free to 600 Indian patients per year who cannot even afford this cost, and must pay a 6% royalty on all sales to Bayer quarterly.
The Bayer company — which reportedly finished 2011 with a near-doubling of net income year-over-year to €2.5 billion (about $3.3 billion) — has said it will evaluate its options “to further defend our intellectual property rights in India,” a Bayer spokesperson said in media reports. Bayer said it was “disappointed by the decision” of the Indian government to grant a license to a local drug firm in India to produce a generic version of its highly touted cancer-treating drug so that India citizens could afford it.
As reported by the media, Bayer’s CEO equated the action with theft. The question, then, for highly evolved beings: Is Bayer being stolen from . . . or are the people whose lives are being taken by kidney and liver cancer in India being stolen from because they cannot afford $69,000 a year for a drug that could be made available to them for $178 a month in its generic form, if Bayer would only let it happen?
What responsibility — if any — does a company which nearly doubled its net income from 2011 to 2012 have to a global society? (A major percentage of India’s population lives below the poverty line. The government’s most recent estimate is 32%. The World Bank says it is ten percent higher.)
I’d very much like to hear your answer to the above question. Please post your comment below. Thanks.